The Lancia/Autobianchi Y10 is one of the underappreciated superminis of the world. Lancia was one of the first to embrace the premium hatch concept, giving their little Ypsilon such amenities as central locking, alcantara seating, and turbocharged engines, well before this was considered the norm in small cars. Furthermore, since the car was based on the Panda platform, Fiat was also able to adapt the 4wd platform to create a sort of mini-Range Rover, with luxurious trim and all-weather capability. To start, let’s take a look at this 1992 Lancia Y10 GT ie for sale for €1800 ($2252 today) in Bellevue-la-Montagne, France.
It’s very clearly a 1980s car, with folded-paper lines and a clear suggestion of the wedge trend. Features that make it stand out include the clamshell hood and Kamm-style hatch in matte black. Those features, together with flush windows, door handles and rain gutters, a steeply angled windshield, and a tapered roofline gave a coefficient of drag of 0.31 when values of around 0.4 were still pretty common. As you can see, this car has had some hail damage, but other than that appears to be in fairly good shape for an Italian subcompact – many are beaten or have simply disappeared from the roads. While this car is listed as a 1993, that would make it part of the 3rd series with a later-style grill, so perhaps this one languished at a dealership.
Tightening emissions regulations meant the GT’s turbocharged engine was dropped for 1989, replaced with a slightly less-powerful naturally-aspirated 1.3-liter fuel-injected engine. Given the characteristics of 1980s turbo engines, this was promoted as being a much more civilized, usable powertrain. Aside from the exterior design, the other allure of the Y10 was the interior – top-level models like the GT got alcantara upholstery, central locking, electric folding rear windows, full carpeting, and electronic climate control.
It’s really a pretty smart little car, and it appealed to both men and women as a fashionable small car, the way modern Minis and Fiat 500s do now, but well before that was a familiar concept. However, if you want to hew more closely to the original concept as designed, or want to show up that jerk in his Subaru Justy, you’ll want to check out this 1987 Autobianchi Y10 4wd, for sale for €1300 ($1627 today) in Castelnau d’Aude, France.
With the 50hp 999cc FIRE engine (haha, fire engine), the car was no rocket, but would leave drivers in more luxurious Alfas and Lancias behind when conditions got rough. Were there any other 4wd compacts beside the Justy and the Fiat Panda in 1987? The 4wd system was actuated by push button, pretty remarkable when most trucks still had manually locking hubs. This car has had much significant work including front shocks, a rebuilt carburetor, and a rebuild of the pneumatic 4wd switching system. While it hasn’t passed its Controle Technique since 2013, it will be retested upon sale of the car. Early Y10s are now over 25 years old – is the cachet of the first luxury supermini enough to bring one into North America?